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Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse but the rest of the world isn’t listening

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posted on Jan, 19 2017 @ 07:02 PM
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Very interesting article about how Iceland has dealt with the problem of teenage substance abuse. In the last 20 years Iceland has made great inroads into this problem, and they seem to have done so in a quite unique fashion.

mosaicscience.com...




Twenty years ago, says Gudberg, Icelandic teens were among the heaviest-drinking youths in Europe. “You couldn’t walk the streets in downtown Reykjavik on a Friday night because it felt unsafe,” adds Milkman. “There were hordes of teenagers getting in-your-face drunk.”


Compare this to now.


Today, Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 per cent in 1998 to 5 per cent in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17 per cent to 7 per cent. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23 per cent to just 3 per cent.

The way the country has achieved this turnaround has been both radical and evidence-based, but it has relied a lot on what might be termed enforced common sense. “This is the most remarkably intense and profound study of stress in the lives of teenagers that I have ever seen,” says Milkman. “I’m just so impressed by how well it is working.”


So how exactly has Iceland managed to do this? Harvey Milkman, an American psychology professor, found himself at in the centre of the 'drug revolution' during which a lot of young people were experimenting with psychedelics and marijuana, as well as harder drugs.


In the early 1970s, when he was doing an internship at the Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in New York City, “'___' was already in, and a lot of people were smoking marijuana. And there was a lot of interest in why people took certain drugs.”

Milkman’s doctoral dissertation concluded that people would choose either heroin or amphetamines depending on how they liked to deal with stress. Heroin users wanted to numb themselves; amphetamine users wanted to actively confront it. After this work was published, he was among a group of researchers drafted by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse to answer questions such as: why do people start using drugs? Why do they continue? When do they reach a threshold to abuse? When do they stop? And when do they relapse?


Instead of looking at simplistic answers, the college Milkman worked at why people take drugs, and why they continue to take drugs.


Any college kid could say: why do they start? Well, there’s availability, they’re risk-takers, alienation, maybe some depression,” he says. “But why do they continue? So I got to the question about the threshold for abuse and the lights went on – that’s when I had my version of the ‘aha’ experience: they could be on the threshold for abuse before they even took the drug, because it was their style of coping that they were abusing.”

At Metropolitan State College of Denver, Milkman was instrumental in developing the idea that people were getting addicted to changes in brain chemistry. Kids who were “active confronters” were after a rush – they’d get it by stealing hubcaps and radios and later cars, or through stimulant drugs. Alcohol also alters brain chemistry, of course. It’s a sedative but it sedates the brain’s control first, which can remove inhibitions and, in limited doses, reduce anxiety.

“People can get addicted to drink, cars, money, sex, calories, coc aine – whatever,” says Milkman. “The idea of behavioural addiction became our trademark.”


So how exactly did Iceland deal with its teen substance abuse. Quite simply, by introducing a valid lifestyle alternative to that of the drug lifestyle.


“Why not orchestrate a social movement around natural highs: around people getting high on their own brain chemistry – because it seems obvious to me that people want to change their consciousness – without the deleterious effects of drugs?”


Lo and behold, the program was a success.


By 1992, his team in Denver had won a $1.2 million government grant to form Project Self-Discovery, which offered teenagers natural-high alternatives to drugs and crime. They got referrals from teachers, school nurses and counsellors, taking in kids from the age of 14 who didn’t see themselves as needing treatment but who had problems with drugs or petty crime.

“We didn’t say to them, you’re coming in for treatment. We said, we’ll teach you anything you want to learn: music, dance, hip hop, art, martial arts.” The idea was that these different classes could provide a variety of alterations in the kids’ brain chemistry, and give them what they needed to cope better with life: some might crave an experience that could help reduce anxiety, others may be after a rush.

At the same time, the recruits got life-skills training, which focused on improving their thoughts about themselves and their lives, and the way they interacted with other people. “The main principle was that drug education doesn’t work because nobody pays attention to it. What is needed are the life skills to act on that information,” Milkman says. Kids were told it was a three-month programme. Some stayed five years.


Rather than focus on punitive measures, Iceland appears to have developed a positive approach, and it has paid dividends.

The article goes into a lot of detail on measures taken across Europe and America comparing the Icelandic model, and looks at why Iceland has had so much success. There is lot of data, and I recommend reading the article to compare the efficacy of different models of drug treatment across the world.

Getting the youth involved in searching for their own 'natural highs' without drugs seems a no brainer. Having facilities for people to use instead of cutting services and social programs also seems a no brainer.

Perhaps funding models are a problem in certain countries, but the real cost on society of drug and alcohol should be taken into account, and one might find it works out cheaper and more effective on a number of levels.
edit on 19-1-2017 by cuckooold because: (no reason given)

edit on 1.27.2017 by Kandinsky because: Edited by OP request



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posted on Jan, 19 2017 @ 07:19 PM
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I guess our grand parents were right, there`s nothing that an honest days hard work can`t cure.At the end of the day you feel a sense of satisfaction because you accomplished something and you even made a little money,you might have even learned something too.


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posted on Jan, 19 2017 @ 07:35 PM
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Focusing on helping people instead of punishing them actually helps them.

Who woulda thought?



posted on Jan, 19 2017 @ 07:37 PM
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a reply to: cuckooold

I think John Taylor Gatto figured the secret long before this research and if you go through his stuff you see a similar approach and results . Still a great post OP and confirms scientifically Gatto's work .



posted on Jan, 19 2017 @ 07:41 PM
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a reply to: cuckooold

Iceland has a population of only 331 thousand, less than many major cities elsewhere in the world. Plus, it is more remote from the drug dealers and obtaining drugs is not so easy. Poverty, employment, culture and family life are enormous factors that drive kids to drugs and alcohol. So, yes, let us try systems that work, but what works in Iceland probably won't cut it in the inner cities or the growing number of drug use in the smaller towns across America.



posted on Jan, 19 2017 @ 07:43 PM
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a reply to: underwerks

The same could be said about the justice system as well . Our society takes a small criminal and puts them in a environment (punishment) that makes a hard core criminal when they are released and more then likely to return through the system . Its self perpetuating .



posted on Jan, 19 2017 @ 07:49 PM
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Basically a City state with a homogeneous society that already had extremely low crime rates and an extremely incorruptible government and intact family structures.



posted on Jan, 19 2017 @ 07:54 PM
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a reply to: jellyrev

There is a model for it ,even inside a city like New York

John Taylor Gatto[1] (born December 15, 1935[2]) is an American author and former school teacher who taught in the classroom for nearly 30 years. He devoted much of his energy to his teaching career, then, following his resignation, authored several books on modern education, criticizing its ideology, history, and consequences. He is best known for the underground classic Dumbing Us Down: the Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, and The Underground History of American Education: A Schoolteacher’s Intimate Investigation Into the Problem of Modern Schooling, which is sometimes considered to be his magnum opus. He was named New York City Teacher of the Year in 1989, 1990, and 1991, and New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991



posted on Jan, 19 2017 @ 08:00 PM
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originally posted by: the2ofusr1
a reply to: underwerks

The same could be said about the justice system as well . Our society takes a small criminal and puts them in a environment (punishment) that makes a hard core criminal when they are released and more then likely to return through the system . Its self perpetuating .

Oh yeah. What people don't realize is that drugs are easier to get in most jails than on the streets. Prison and jail is nothing more than a crime college if you want to get down to the meat of the subject.



posted on Jan, 19 2017 @ 08:02 PM
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a reply to: underwerks

My Dad did 3 bits in Federal Prisons so I know quite a bit about it .



posted on Jan, 19 2017 @ 08:12 PM
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originally posted by: jellyrev
Basically a City state with a homogeneous society that already had extremely low crime rates and an extremely incorruptible government and intact family structures.

Allow me to translate:
"Another country is making the US look incompetent again, let's find something to make their successes seem less sound!"

This is not something to scoff at, it's dialing on HUMAN NATURE to address an issue. When humans aren't stimulated enough, they seek out substitutes, of which many are illicit. It's not the drug they want, it's the chemical reward, the difference is that few are even aware of that mechanic.
That chemical reward can be made by the body safely & obtained through other means, and Iceland proved it. Therefore, the American mindset of "nothing works, jail the useless junkies/drunks" looks incompetent AF.



posted on Jan, 19 2017 @ 08:18 PM
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a reply to: cuckooold

It's stories like these that absolutely restore my faith.

Thanks for sharing.




posted on Jan, 19 2017 @ 08:20 PM
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Basically Parenting 101 and the discovery of the "runners high" which of course can be found in other endeavors. I know people who absolutely hate running but it has become their new obsession and music appeals to a lot of young people as long as its music they can relate too and eventually they discover the Classics.

It appears Iceland decided that enough is enough with strong curfews and mandated Parental participation in some school activities. I was shocked to learn that 11 percent of all alcohol consumption n the US is due to underage drinking. The curfew would be problematic, at least in some regions but would work in others, so many broken families as far as many members of our immediate families, whether it is Mom or Dad any sort of participation in school projects would be pitiful and most kids nowadays would just as soon spit on you if you even attempted dialog.

It will come down to communities working together, community policing works if we return to it and stick with it but short attention spans and stingy pockets loaded with money but only for what we want to use it on...nothing is easy but Iceland seems to have made this look easy for them with even predominantly Muslim country's attempting to put it into practice....maybe it could work in some areas but I am afraid most places it would not work in the US.



posted on Jan, 19 2017 @ 08:30 PM
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originally posted by: the2ofusr1
a reply to: underwerks

My Dad did 3 bits in Federal Prisons so I know quite a bit about it .

Check this out: I was locked up in L.A. county downtown in the towers for failure to appear for a traffic warrant. My cellmate was a guy who had been in there for 3 years, he was originally arrested for a traffic warrant, same as me.

But in jail, sometimes you have to fight, so he ended up getting a life sentence just for protecting himself when people would try to mess with him. So now, he's probably going to spend the majority of the next 25 years behind bars not because of anything he did on the outside, but because he chose to protect himself while locked up in jail for a traffic infraction.

"Justice" system. Yeah right.



posted on Jan, 19 2017 @ 09:05 PM
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a reply to: cuckooold

Iceland was done a couple things.

First, they threw off the chains of the IMF. Their economy suffered for a couple years. Then they did the unthinkable.

Then they broke the stranglehold of an oil based economy. They went geothermal.

Next, all the bastid bankers were held accountable for their actions. The EU hated them! Iceland paid their citizens cash for all the troubles.

So killing the scourge of another dependency and screwing over the powers that want that form of control over a population is not surprising.

The rest of the world should do the same.



posted on Jan, 19 2017 @ 09:31 PM
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a reply to: Nyiah

I did not say that. There are plenty of US programs which try after school activities to keep teenagers out of trouble.
Schools already have civic programs in sports, arts, music.
Plenty and plenty of outreach programs.
Have you not watched those high school football movies and how football keeps them troubled youth out of trouble with that bullheaded coach.

A lot of other countries do not do extracurricular activities. very few do it like the US does.
Iceland doing this in Europe is definitely a revelation for them. Their schools are not sports complexes.

I was stating that the conditions that allow this country to be able to do these kind of things.





I was shocked to learn that 11 percent of all alcohol consumption n the US is due to underage drinking.

The american age of drinking is also 21. This means most people turning 21 in their 3rd year in college if they went directly to college. In the US they will also throw you in jail and take away your license for simply drinking a beer at age 20.



posted on Jan, 19 2017 @ 09:54 PM
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a reply to: underwerks

The US model of a for profit prison doesn't really help .I think there is a prison lobby and I think there have been a few cases of Judges creating the clientele for the system . But I think its a deeper issue that goes or has its roots in the Prussian form of education that was adopted for public schools . It has a reward /punishment element that becomes generational and manifests its self also into family and community . Without a law there is no law breaker . Our government is one that is constantly creating laws . The more laws you have the more law breakers you will have . Can anyone see a end to this cycle ?

edit on 19-1-2017 by the2ofusr1 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 19 2017 @ 10:33 PM
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Boredom. Kids get into trouble when they are bored. The OP touched on it, I think, with the idea of coping with stress. Or another way of coping with energy that has no outlet. I grew up in a suburb of Atlanta - in the early 80's there wasn't really anything to do unless you played sports. Even then, nights and weekends were spent at some hidden away street or a home without adult supervision, drinking, smoking, or other unmentionable activities. There were only so many times you could hang out at the mall, or see a movie.


My husband and I have 2 teenage boys, and we really want to keep them occupied. Martial arts, wrestling teams, scouts, hobbies, etc. My boys are rarely bored. Whether our guys manage to stay away from substance abuse still remains to be seen, but we're trying.



posted on Jan, 19 2017 @ 10:47 PM
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They are on the right path. Though, as mentioned already,

originally posted by: Aliensun
a reply to: cuckooold

Iceland has a population of only 331 thousand, less than many major cities elsewhere in the world. Plus, it is more remote from the drug dealers and obtaining drugs is not so easy. Poverty, employment, culture and family life are enormous factors that drive kids to drugs and alcohol. So, yes, let us try systems that work, but what works in Iceland probably won't cut it in the inner cities or the growing number of drug use in the smaller towns across America.


Exactly the differences have to be taken into consideration.

Poverty is, of course, a large part of the cycle. I grew up in the middle class city area where money wasn't scarce, so jobs for teens from grocery baggers to baby sitting was plentiful. Sure it didn't stop all teens from finding drugs but comparatively to more poverty stricken areas many were too busy working and or into hobbies(having money sure helps having some of those) than using substances. Now if only more non city/rural areas and inner cities could accommodate to that. More money going back into the economy from more jobs overall.

Not even to mention the US has an ever growing drug issue with heroin(cartels bringing more and more in, etc) and with prescription narcotics.

Also, it's down to culture too and parenting, for ex, as a part of that. While many teens may be busy with work, etc, in the same areas gang culture leaks into them picking up many of the often spoiled rotten types with entitlement issues who will go to all lengths to hurt others(in including bring in the drugs)for street cred in their manicured non ghetto neighborhoods.



posted on Jan, 19 2017 @ 10:53 PM
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Without the war on drugs, how do you expect to keep the corporate for profit prisons filled.

Capitalism and profit, that's all we need to Make America Great Again.




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